• Coquitlam’s Brianna Kim, a theatre graduate, stars in the CBC series Gangnam Project as Chan-Mi, a determined K-pop trainee at OME academy.
  • The show also features Julia Kim Caldwell as Hannah, a Korean-Canadian teen experiencing the realities of K-pop fame while tutoring Chan-Mi.
  • K-pop schools are highly competitive environments where young trainees spend years honing their skills to break into the lucrative K-pop music industry.
  • The series explores themes of fierce competition, with Chan-Mi vying for success and guarding against potential threats to her aspirations.
  • The show’s co-creator, Sarah Haasz, draws upon her experiences with competitive dance to capture the intensity of the K-pop training world.
  • Visits to K-pop schools in Korea ensured accuracy in portraying the training environment, complemented by vibrant visuals and a captivating soundtrack.
  • Gangnam Project aims to convey a “K-pop drama light” feel suitable for younger audiences, focusing on themes of redemption and inner strength.
  • Through its narrative, the series emphasizes the message that true value lies in inner qualities rather than external appearances, aiming to inspire its audience.

Playing a K-pop star in training seems like a dream job for a theatre kid. Coquitlam’s Brianna Kim confirms this with an enthusiastic “Oh yeaaaaahhhh,” about her role on the new TV series Gangnam Project, now streaming on CBC Gem.

A graduate of the Musical Theatre program at Capilano University, Kim plays Chan-Mi, a prickly pop star “trainee” and the queen of the fictional K-pop training academy OME (One Mile Entertainment). Shot in Hamilton but set in Korea, the show also stars Julia Kim Caldwell as Hannah, a Korean-Canadian teen who tutors Chan-Mi and experiences the harsh realities of K-pop fame firsthand.

These schools are where kids as young as age 10 spend years training in a highly competitive environment, hoping to break into the close to $6 billion-dollar K-pop music industry.

“I think Chan-Mi is very guarded,” said Kim, who also starred as Janet in the Arts Club touring production of the hit TV show/play Kim’s Convenience. “She knows that only the top three per cent make it … She doesn’t want anything getting in the way. If someone comes in from Canada, she kind of feels like there’s a threat.”

The halls of OME are filled with trainees striving for the kind of fame that K-pop stars such as BTS and BlackPink enjoy. Every class is a chance to stand out.

“I know what auditions are like and how competitive people get. I resonated with Chan-Mi’s drive,” said Kim, who has also appeared in Lionsgate’s joyride, the CW series Kung Fu, Hallmark’s Fit for Christmas, and the indie feature film Riceboy Sleeps.

Competition is a central theme in the show. Co-creator and showrunner Sarah Haasz doesn’t have a K-pop background but draws upon her experiences with her daughter’s competitive dance world to capture the intensity.

Haasz, who was born in Seoul Korea and immigrated to Hamilton as a toddler, also infuses her own experiences into the character of Hannah. Hannah’s struggles with acceptance and finding her place amidst the competitive atmosphere will resonate with many viewers.

To get the K-pop training details right, Haasz and the show’s team visited numerous K-pop schools in Korea. The show features bright clothes, catchy tunes, and a soundtrack composed by recording artist and producer August Rigo (who has written songs for BTS, Justin Bieber, and One Direction).

The creators aimed for a “K-pop drama light” feel, making it suitable for younger audiences. While real-life K-pop schools have faced controversy, Gangnam Project focuses on themes of redemption and the importance of inner strength.

“I feel a great moral in the story is it’s not really what matters on the outside. It’s cliché, but it’s what’s on the inside that matters,” said Kim. “I hope kids get that message.”

Source (content and images(retrieved)): Vancouver Sun